Review Fix chats with RAUSCH frontman Doug Rausch, who discusses the band’s upcoming album, “Book II.”
On February 2nd, RAUSCH will release its second full-length album BOOK II. Heavy-hitting contributions come from the likes of Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard), and second Shadow Gallery mainstay, guitarist Brendt Allman. Picking up where the debut left off, it remains painfully vulnerable & autobiographical of the band’s trials & tribulations along the way. Things are “even more deep and dark” this time, observes the returning Rich Mouser who (along with Bumblefoot) applauds the “Queen-on-steroids” diversity running throughout. Lead-off single “Greener Grass” is adventurous and catchy; “Irked” at times ﬂirts with jazz; “The End” is a nearly 10-minute atmospheric musical tapestry picking right up where Pink Floyd left off; the head-splitting “Speechless” shows the band clashing with Metallica-sized demons; and joining “Good Day” is 2nd Ivory-produced track “Swansong” which, by notable contrast, offers a glimpse of something completely unexplored up until now: optimism.
Review Fix: How did the band get together?
Doug Rausch: I have very few non-musical hobbies in life, but there’s pig-collecting & hot-sauce/pepper connoisseur. Bassist buddy Joe Fine’s family has long owned a sandwich shop, and – true story – I was presented with a particularly generous offer of hot peppers at our first meeting in 2004; I was honored. That was enough to get my attention, and upon discovering his playing was just as tasty as his sandwiches, the rest was history. Gary Wehrkamp – already known from Shadow Gallery – was initially less accessible, but my persistent courting ultimately got his attention, following a chance meeting in NYC in 2007. That one was fate. Drummer Chris, the new guy, we met less glamorously (but hey, whatever gets the job done) – Craigslist.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Rausch: Pre-packaged songs come to me, ready-to-go, via the radio in my head from which I steal at 3am. It’s the execution – birthing them into fixed, final recorded form – that takes an excruciatingly prolonged period of monogamy between music & creator. But I’m working on it.
Review Fix: What inspires the band?
Rausch: Tragedy, turmoil, hardship, Murphy’s law, darkness… the usual.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Rausch: Queen on steroids (technically how someone else once described it, but I accept)
Review Fix: What makes your upcoming album BOOK II special?
Rausch: Aside from the fact that it took a million years to produce, with my entire life’s being going into it, hmm… let’s leave that up to the listener.
Review Fix: What’s the standout track? How was it written?
Rausch: Please don’t ask me to choose from my babies…
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Rausch: Great question, as some of these tracks are nearly impossible to replicate live (at least, without pre-recorded tracks, which people seem to be a little too accepting of these days)…we’re talking about two completely different things. I believe in studio art, and I believe in live energy. So I respect the separate respective entities, and they are to be approached as such. Only after the fact, take the “seed” or “soul” of the song and determine how to translate it live (there’s usually a way)… A recording is forever, so in the studio I work in that spirit. A live performance is all about the energy of the moment, so it must be an honest interpretation of what one is feeling at the time (similar to the writing process itself, which I unintentionally short-changed in the last question). In the classical world of course, this is highly controversial, but fortunately from Day 1, I never strove to be a touring classical pianist. There’s always someone “better,” so to me it’s a pointless path; even if you are the best, it’s like catching the biggest fish – “so then what”? Studio or live, my goal is to offer my true self; something different. Ha.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2018?
Rausch: Same as any other year… to SAVE MUSIC HISTORY! But seriously.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Rausch: Get out and play.